Why is Keir Starmer spreading economic illiteracy?
Keir Starmer is pushing the economically illiterate "maxed out credit card" trope to justify his myopic adherence to the Tory austerity agenda
In the summer of 2023 Labour’s environment minister Ed Miliband said that Britain needs to "borrow to invest in the green economy". And that "Keir, Rachel and I … are committed to" delivering Labour’s £28 billion plan.
This week Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves have made Miliband look an absolute fool by publicly ripping up Labour’s green investment plan within nine months of Ed’s heartfelt climate assurances.
Starmer’s excuse for jettisoning what was until fairly recently one of his party’s headline economic policies is absolutely lamentable. Apparently Labour can’t now afford to invest for the future because the Tory government has said it is going to "max out the national credit card".
If this sounds wearisomely familiar, it’s because it is. The "maxed out national credit card" trope was one of David Cameron and George Osborne’s favourite propaganda lines when they were trying to convince the country that "let’s cut our way to prosperity" austerity ruination was a wise economic strategy, rather than the macroeconomically illiterate road to ruin it’s proven to be.
Anyone with a shred of economic knowledge understands that comparisons between national economies and household family budgets are profoundly misleading, and that they’re especially egregious when public borrowing is portrayed as akin to a reckless credit card splurge.
Unless you have a money printing press in your house, your household budget is almost entirely unlike a national economy, and public borrowing (the cheapest possible form of borrowing) is extremely unlike credit card borrowing (the most expensive aside from payday loan exploitation).
Thus anyone making such comparisons is either an economic illiterate who doesn’t have the faintest idea how national economies actually work, or they’re wilfully spreading economically illiterate tropes in order dupe people they believe to be gullible.
If we assume good faith, then Starmer is an economically deluded idiot who represents as much of a danger to the national economy as the austerity-obsessed Tories, and the alternative is that he knows full-well that he’s spreading harmful economic illiteracy, but he’s doing it because he believes there’s some short-term personal economic benefit to deliberately fostering economic stupidity.
The most frustrating thing about Starmer’s resurrection of this damaging economically illiterate trope, and the lack of condemnation of his behaviour in the press, is that it proves the Westminster establishment and Britain’s dreadful media class simply haven’t learned anything from the last 14 years of Tory austerity ruination.
Yes the Tories have tripled the national debt since 2010, and they absolutely failed to eliminate the budget deficit despite promising that they’d have done it by 2015, but you’d have to be an idiot to believe that this failure means we now need to double-down with even more of the austerity, infrastructure under-investment, wage repression, and public service cutbacks that have failed so spectacularly to achieve the promised prosperity and balanced budgets.
After 14 years of failed "let’s cut our way to prosperity" austerity rubbish and economically illiterate tropes about "maxed out credit cards" and "magic money trees" the country is falling apart at the seams and the public debt has literally multiplied.
What we need is proper investment in the things that generate future economic prosperity (education, infrastructure, quality public services, energy saving measures, public health, affordable housing, high-tech jobs, green technology …) not just "more of the same" but with a red rosette pinned to it.
Investment in a scheme to prevent energy waste by insulating some of Britain’s millions of leaky and inefficient homes is exactly the kind of thing that’s needed.
Lower energy waste means Britain’s economy becomes more efficient and less susceptible to external energy shocks, and lower energy bills mean that families would have more money to do economically beneficial stuff like start businesses, save for retirement, or just spending.
Increasing energy efficiency wouldn’t just benefit the environment, it would benefit British families and the British economy as a whole, but Starmer’s intent on binning the idea in order to appease Britain’s austerity-obsessed political and media classes, and he’s spreading economically illiterate drivel to justify making such a poor decision.
Apparently Starmer and the right-wing ghouls he’s surrounded himself with believe we can solve Britain’s economic malaise with the same ruinous "cut our way to prosperity" policies and by spreading exactly the same asinine economic illiteracy as the people who actually caused it!
You’d have to fit Einstein’s definition of insanity to believe that we’ll end up with different results by trying the same thing again, down to the exact same propaganda lines used to justify it.
Another Angry Voice is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.